Another holiday season is upon us. There is a nip in the air, lights of all colors twinkle throughout neighborhoods and cityscapes across the country, and holiday cheer radiates throughout our schools, workplaces and communities. During this festive time, friends and families often come together in true fellowship over good food and drink, and companionship leisurely forged through years of interaction.
But part of the magic of any holiday season is the purity brought to it by the children among us. As anyone who has raised a child can affirm, the musings of the youthful during this time and over the course of a year can often amount to a treasure trove of warmth, laughter, and insight. And when a multicultural setting is added to the mix, children seem to thrive from the stimuli.
As we enter this holiday season and near the end of another year, allow me to share with you some of the kid-speak over the past decade from three multiracial children raised in Japan.
In mid-January — pondering on the bed
4-year-old daughter: Daddy, why are there English-speaking people in Tokyo?
Jan. 29 — talking about the future
10-year-old daughter: I want to be a lawyer when I grow up. And he’s going to be a doctor. Right?
7-year-old son: Um-hum.
Daddy: Now, don’t say that you want to be a doctor unless you have an interest in how the body works. When you get older, I want you to follow your interest — do what you’re interested in doing.
7-year-old son: (pause) I wanna be a pirate.
Feb. 5 — while proceeding through her new set of Brain Quest cards (sets of long rectangular cards with questions on a variety of topics on one side and the answers on the other side)
7-year-old daughter: (reading question aloud) Language Arts: If a man has a wife, what does a woman have?
7-year-old daughter: (answering) A ring!
Feb. 9 — while going through more cards
7-year-old daughter: (reading question aloud) Language Arts: Say these words in ABC order: bus, train, cab, subway.
Daddy: Do you know what a subway is?
7-year-old daughter: Yes, I know! It’s a sandwich shop!
Feb. 10 — emerging from a bath and seeing that his channel-surfing daddy has momentarily stopped at a Britney Spears MTV special in which Britney is dressed in an outfit that exposes her stomach
5-year-old son: Daddy, why are you watching this? (pause) Because you want to see her belly button?
April 4 — talking about a recent stop by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo
9-year-old daughter: It smelled like America in there!
April 25 — pondering
5-year-old daughter: Daddy, is Bob Sapp really stronger than you?
May 3 — reviewing house rules before the arrival of guests
Daddy: And let’s remember rule No. 1: no jumping on my new bed.
5-year-old son: Right, no jumping. But, we can stand on the bed, right?
June 7 — expanding her vocabulary at a clothing store while perusing a new favorite brand of shirts, all sporting the slogan “Life is Good,” and suddenly coming across a parody, “Life is . . .“
10-year-old daughter: Daddy, what does “crap” mean?
June 17 — caught off guard by a pondering boy stretched out on the toy-room floor early on a Tuesday morning
7-year-old son: Daddy, which was made first: “Superman 3” or “Indiana Jones 2”?
June 26 — talking about his English class
Daddy: Where is your teacher from? 7-year-old son: Um . . . Newsy Island? (New Zealand)
In July — as we settled into our seats prior to takeoff from Narita
3-year-old daughter: Daddy, that man has no hair! (pointing at the man across the aisle)
Daddy: (quick glance)
3-year-old daughter: Look Daddy! Right there! (still pointing) That man has no hair!
Aug. 1 — a thoughtful moment
4-year-old son: Daddy, do ninjas take baths?
Sept. 1 — while reading a book
3-year-old son: Why does Daddy have glasses?
Daddy: Daddy’s eyes are not strong.
3-year-old son: But, Daddy’s a strong man!
Daddy: Yes, but Daddy’s eyes are not strong.
3-year-old son: Why does Daddy not have glasses when sleeping?
Daddy: Because . . . (thinking) . . .
3-year-old son: When sleeping, Daddy’s eyes are strong?
Sept. 2 — after completing what might not have been an eagerly anticipated in-house duty for the day, watching Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention
Daddy: There were a lot of people there.
11-year-old daughter: Yeah, and all of them did not seem bored.
Sept. 18 — while watching a Seattle Seahawks football game
Daddy: That big fellow right there has a very interesting name — Mack Strong.
9-year-old daughter: So, in Japan, he would be called . . . Strong Mack?
In September — while watching one of this country’s pastimes
3-year-old daughter: In judo, they hug . . . but they don’t kiss.
Early October — using Reader Rabbit reading software on the computer
Daddy: Click right here.
4-year-old daughter: Daddy, I can do it by myself.
4-year-old daughter: (pause) Right here?
Oct. 13 — asking about a new Saturday-morning international-culture class
Daddy: Was that new Global Kids class interesting?
7-year-old daughter: Yes.
Daddy: Was it fun?
7-year-old daughter: Yes.
Daddy: So, you had a good time?
7-year-old daughter: Yes.
Daddy: Did you learn anything?
7-year-old daughter: No. Nothing at all!
Oct. 14 — demonstrating supreme knowledge of pop culture at dinner the evening after the Japan premiere of the movie “High School Musical 2”
Daddy: I like that song — what’s it called: “I Can’t Dance”?
10-year-old daughter: “I Won’t Dance.”
3-year-old son: No, no! “I Don’t Dance!”
Oct. 17 — while reading Dr. Seuss’ “Cat in the Hat”
4-year-old son: Is Cat in the Hat a boy?
Daddy: Yes. 4-year-old son: Why doesn’t the Cat in the Hat have a weenie?
Daddy: Um . . .
4-year-old son: Because he’s a cat?
Oct. 25 — after watching a few minutes of the World Series, the championship of a sport that does not get much airtime in our household
10-year-old daughter: You know, this sport is not that easy. They have to hit that little, tiny ball with that long, skinny bat!
Thanksgiving Day — after pulling the big bird out of the oven
Daddy: Come look at the turkey!
4-year-old son: Where’s its face?
Nov. 30 — minutes after arriving home in the evening, walking into the children’s playroom, and seeing our 4-year-old sitting on the floor with scissors in hand, stuffed animals all around, small bits of colored “animal fur” on the floor and Woody Woodpecker in the boy’s lap
Daddy: What are you doing?
4-year-old son: Giving Woody Pecker a haircut!
Dec. 6 — providing a little company at bedtime to help him fall asleep
4-year-old son: Daddy, you sleep right here (pointing next to himself). Because I like Daddy. (pause) And ice cream.
Over the next year, consider compiling a collection of your own children’s kid-speak to humor them with in later years. And even feel free to share it with me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a possible compilation next December.